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Social Anthropology: Yes Please!

From what appears to be a new blog by a smart person, called LIFEXTENSION:

Musings: Cognitive Archaeology; Romantic ‘Paleo Primitivism’; From Trust to Domination

One of the central debates in political philosophy has been the possibility of true egalitarianism. It has been argued that society cannot exist without its rules, sanctions, and persons to govern them; consequently, the notion of an original society lacking distinctions of class and authority has been claimed to be a total fiction. Yet this notion has long been central to anthropological understandings of hunter-gather social forms, where the equality of all peoples is actualised and promoted through the conduct of everyday life. However, the rejection of distinctions of power is not synonymous with rejecting power itself. Hunter-gatherers generally attribute great value to power. However, power for hunter-gatherers, is not defined by coercion or control. Rather, it takes the form of physical strength, skill, or wisdom in individuals. While we can find evidence of leadership in hunter-gatherer communities, the relationship between leader and follower is based – not on domination – but on trust.

Furthermore, hunter-gatherer societies are constituted by relations of incorporation, rather than exclusion. Divisions between public and private, and self and society, are largely absent and meaningless. The individual is understood to be both a dependent and autonomous agent, operating within an unbounded social network that provides and guarantees sustenance, support, care, and companionship.

Ultimately, the relational systems of hunter-gatherer societies reveal a way of engaging with the world and others that is ontologically disparate from contemporary Western conceptions of society. Ethnographic research presents an invaluable resource to unfold and accentuate the differences of worldviews. It reveals to us the diversity of human experience and perspectives, stimulates novel attitudes and interpretations, and encourages reflexive scrutiny of our own preconceptions. Consequently, I think the current paleo discourse would benefit infinitely from engaging with the social anthropology – rather than just the diets – of the hunter-gatherer humans groups on which the whole orthodoxy is founded.

My comment: This is really, to me, the essence of the anarchism I espouse. It’s based on social power (wielding power through influence, competence, persuasion, leadership, rationality, thoughtfulness and so on) vs political, hierarchical power.

Or, this:

Screen Shot 2012 11 27 at 3 43 14 PM
Where’s the City Council?

And NOT this:

Screen Shot 2012 10 24 at 10 08 23 AM
The Nomenclatura

…Or this:

Voting
 

Anarchy Begins at Home. Go give her whole post a good read.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

42 Comments

  1. Danny J Albers on April 16, 2013 at 08:14

    About the best new blog out there, glad you found it.

  2. Kayumochi on April 16, 2013 at 09:38

    The men sitting around the campfire are at a different developmental stage than those that follow as has been described by researchers such as Piaget, Fowler and Wilber. One level of development isn’t necessarily any better than another but the level of complexity differs as does the mindset. Evolution produces increasingly complex forms and those forms also include entire cultures. To wish for a “simpler time” is to fall into the Golden Age Fallacy, but I can understand those who wish to exist is a less sophisticated structure. That explains places like Idaho and South Carolina and movements like the Tea Party as well as religious fundamentalism.

  3. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 09:41

    As usual, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  4. Kayumochi on April 16, 2013 at 09:48

    Do you disagree with Piaget, Fowler and Wilber? If so, how? I am very interested.

  5. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 09:54

    Nice premise smuggling. I see, to disagree with your one paragraph is to disagree with the entirety of their work.

    Bye.

  6. Kayumochi on April 16, 2013 at 09:55

    Not at all Richard. None of these researchers is 100% right. A fact that Wilber acknowledges.

  7. LeonRover on April 16, 2013 at 09:56

    “social anthropology”, “social science”, “counter-factual history”, “science fiction” are activities which have tiny amounts of data and large amounts of conjecture.

    They make wonderful reads for those cold winter evenings in front of crackling wood fires.

    They are either “what might be” or “what have been”

    and thus remain

    ” an abstraction remaining a perpetual possibility only in a world of speculation.”

    I feel about the sociological term “narrative” as Samuel Johnson feels about “patriotism”,

    as ” the last refuge of the (intellectual) scoundrel”.

  8. LeonRover on April 16, 2013 at 10:01

    PS Correction

    They are either “what might be” or “what might have been”

  9. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 10:06

    “Not at all Richard. None of these researchers is 100% right. A fact that Wilber acknowledges.”

    Oh, wow, you mean a guy like Ken doesn’t think he’s always right, about everything all the time, and thinks the same of others?

    Wow!

  10. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 10:07

    Leon:

    Whatever.

  11. Kayumochi on April 16, 2013 at 10:09

    Ken Wilber built his AQAL model and Integral Theory on the work of Piaget and others. He acknowledges that it is only a *map* but probably the most accurate map currently available and others will certainly improve upon it much as European explorers improved upon the early maps of North America.

  12. LeonRover on April 16, 2013 at 10:28
  13. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 11:26

    “Ken Wilber built his AQAL model and Integral Theory….”

    Yea, and people build shit in their garage. So what? I’m a Wilberfan, generally, but he still strikes me as one who wishes you to abandon your nature by means of deep contemplation for that which is not in your nature.

    I’m for sorting out selfishness amongst savage beasts. Because that’s the given. I reject generally anyone who does not fundamentally account for fundamental selfishness. Like you, pretty clueless.

  14. Kayumochi on April 16, 2013 at 11:38

    Curious as to how I am clueless … I mean, I do account for fundamental selfishness as does Wilber; it is right there in his AQAL model …

  15. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 11:59

    “Curious as to how I am clueless”

    I already told you. See my first response.

    You are not an honest dealer, and I have yet to be fooled that you are.

  16. marie on April 16, 2013 at 12:01

    LeonRover,
    but Norton burns in many ways, wherein both “what might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present.”

    There’s a role for what might have been, besides fire-side soothing,
    because I’m wary that realism can be one hard drink away from cynicism,
    whereas “True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.” -Cocteau
    At the very least, social anthropology challenges our habits.

  17. Kayumochi on April 16, 2013 at 12:02

    Read your first response again Richard and still don’t follow you. You offer no specifics, only insults.

  18. marie on April 16, 2013 at 13:07

    Kayumochi, you poor thing.
    Here you go, Oh wide-eyed, disingenuous one :
    No one who actually wants to start a discussion does so by making rank assumptions about some point of view and contemptuously dismissing them.

    Your comment is derisive re. a wish for ‘simpler times’ or a ‘wish to exist in less sophisticated structures’ and then a leap to ‘explain’ away whole states – wow.
    That’s just a soap-box for snarky remarks and anyone reading can see that – so, it’s insulting all around.
    Way to go!
    Meanwhile, equating complexity with sophistication boggles the mind, but that’s o.k, because setting up and knocking down imaginary points is a solitary game – enjoy.

  19. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 13:52

    “You offer no specifics, only insults.”

    You have always offered me zero value. Just responding in kind.

  20. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 14:01

    “Kayumochi, you poor thing.”

    He’s just a fucktard, marie. Has been in virtually every single comment he’s ever posted.

  21. marie on April 16, 2013 at 14:22

    Richard, laf. I’m not surprised.
    That comment moderation policy of yours is sticking to principle, I see, but damn, it’s tiresome sometimes! 😉

  22. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 14:27

    Marie:

    I suspect you were out of the loop when Kayumochi went “Full Retard.”

    Starts here.

    https://freetheanimal.com/2013/03/everyone-fair-share.html#comment-407579

  23. Gary on April 16, 2013 at 14:59

    Richard, I think you are confusing ‘abuse’ of power with the design of the power structure, it would help to think of the replacement structure you would propose and find out how ‘easy’ it is to make it work!

  24. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 15:17

    Now sure what you mean, Gary. She wrote:

    “Yet this notion has long been central to anthropological understandings of hunter-gather social forms, where the equality of all peoples is actualised and promoted through the conduct of everyday life.”

    This is the only way that power is least likely to be abused. In modern hierarchical society, abuse is quotidien and always has been. There is zero fixing it, ever. It’s systemic, structural and now, in many ways cultural. Yea, abuse and domination is cultural.

    If the US Constitution not only didn’t fix it but created arguably the most domineering regime ever that kills cleverly instead of right out where everyone can see it, “abuse” rings hollow to me in any sense of fixing it. It has to collapse.

    BTW, I have laid out my replacement structure. It’s a 9-part series linked in the post, where EVERYTHING happens and there are no prescribed designs for anyone.

  25. Earl Cannonbear on April 16, 2013 at 15:20

    “wielding power through influence, competence, persuasion, leadership, rationality, thoughtfulness”

    This is the very definition of a real political leader.

    Someone who truly cares about about the nation and it’s folk.

    Nothing we observe today even comes close.

    We don’t even have a cohesive nation anymore, just a polyglot collection of individuals from all corners of the earth with nothing much in common except for a desire to make a buck by whatever means necessary for the purpose of consuming mindless junk entertainment from Hollywood, junk products from China and junk food.

    The last time we saw anyone who resembled the description given above was elected in 1933 by a real nation, one united by common culture, heritage and blood.

  26. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 15:30

    “This is the very definition of a real political leader.”

    Bullshit.

    The very definition of a political “leader” is guns, jails, threats of seizure, war making and execution chambers.

    FDR was a power mad fuckwit. I might give a few concessions to the first 4-6 presidents and slave holders, however, if I was willing to overlook their slaveholding, which I won’t.

    “We don’t even have a cohesive nation anymore, just a polyglot collection of individuals from all corners of the earth…..”

    And bla bla bla. This is a good thing. People are getting smart, you are getting dumber by the minute. Shove your “national cohesiveness” right up your moron ass.

  27. Earl Cannonbear on April 16, 2013 at 16:04

    “FDR was a power mad fuckwit”

    Agreed, but I wasn’t referring to him.

    He wasn’t the only leader elected in 33.

    BTW, what’s with the hostility? I thought the Kefir diet was supposed to temper the mood.

  28. Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2013 at 16:25

    “I thought the Kefir diet was supposed to temper the mood.”

    There is no cure all.

    “33”

    It does, however, motivate me to extend some benefit of the doubt, now without doubt.

    “…a real nation, one united by common culture, heritage and blood.”

    Just go away, please.

  29. marie on April 16, 2013 at 18:25

    Richard, mon cher,
    between a simple fucktard on the one hand and a truly vile abomination on the other, seems like an unpleasant day today.

    So here’s a mood enhancer for the evening, George Carlin on national pride 😉 :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OnWnwwxNPA

  30. Jesrad on April 16, 2013 at 23:44

    Richard, have you read “stone age economics” by Marshall Sahlins ? It’s an anthropology book that reconstructs actual primal societies from current-day hunter-gatherer tribes and paleology. It has a lot of very insightful things to teach about power, chefs, sharing (and non-sharing, which actually happens a lot too), the social role of gifts and counter-gifts, trade, and the value of trust.

    For one, the chef of a tribe is the one who pays tribute to the others – and not the other way around like in modern society – mostly because he can and wants to afford it. Social collaboration on tribe-wide or even inter-tribe projects is obtained through upfront compensation. Etc.

  31. Koala Lawler on April 17, 2013 at 02:46

    Have you checked out the anarcho-primitivist, John Zerzan, and his writings? He also has a radio show on KWVA Eugene, “Anarchy Radio”. He’s an interesting guy.

  32. SeanII on April 17, 2013 at 05:04

    Dig under that campfire and you might find cities, cars and iPads all long forsaken for the essential life. What really is different for any of those men when they go home to their families and a modern westerner?

    I am still going through my Paleo changes since I started down this rabbit hole 6yrs ago. HGs are my reference point for humanity, you are on your own. With the right knowledge you can survive.

    Sometimes I want to resist all this material progress, thinking it is pointless. But I grapple anyway.
    The Rastas have a word, Groundation, meaning to get rid of all the Babylon layers you live under and become a Nature man, free the animal, so to speak.

    Paleo gives me the tools to do just that. Eat real, deal real, be real.

  33. Richard Nikoley on April 17, 2013 at 07:15

    Koala

    Heard of him, never payed attention, which I never do with primitivists or other forms of Luddite. I am only interested in seeing people divorce themselves from the notion that domination through hierarchical institutions based on preemptive force and coercion is the way to a healthy society and culture.

    But whether someone wants to sit around a campfire with friends or engage them 24/7 via some device & app is just none of my business. Besides, a lot of these things come packed with a sort of negative feedback such that everyone jumps on the bandwagon initially and later becomes less interested, instead carving out what are the good and essential uses of a technology.

    Processed and fast food is a similar deal. Millions are now coming to realize that’s not the way to live & eat.

  34. Richard Nikoley on April 17, 2013 at 09:30

    Jesrad

    Nope, but I’ll put it on my someday list. Thanks. Reviews look pretty good for such an old book.

  35. BillP on April 17, 2013 at 10:43

    Richard,
    Outstanding summary by Lifextension; it is also my own perspective. Thanks for posting it.
    Too often, ranting anti-government dialogues seem themselves trapped in the statist paradigm, not considering paleolithic social models. While there are often major valid criticisms of statism, many suggestions for improvement, even by anarchists, seem more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. So it is refreshing to see a new thoughtful blog.
    States are symptoms (like T2D), structures fed by the control and ownership necessities of agricultural life. How do we get out of this model, without discarding the benefits of civilization, especially from inside the state, while ‘living in the world’? Hopefully this is possible gradually, rather than by cataclysm. This is where the constructive discussion should lie.

  36. Richard Nikoley on April 17, 2013 at 11:05

    BillP:

    Interestingly, in her comment reply to me on her blog, after some bla bla about subsequent comments on Wooo’s blog after my “rape post” (“abysmal statements” — I had no idea she read her blog or was there), she thanks me for my kind words about her post, then writes this head shaker:

    “I do not, however, advocate anarchy; either inside the home or beyond it.”

    That’s interesting. I’m wondering what sort of hierarchical, dominating city-state she advocates for in-home use. Just goes to show how anything but complete adherence to the PC line on what “rape” is, and people lose their minds in other areas.

    So, I dunno. If she can’t see what those three paragraphs I quoted CLEARLY contrast ANARCHISTIC cooperation with state preemptive domination, and that unless you advocate for preemptive domination then you ARE talking anarchy.

  37. BillP on April 17, 2013 at 13:41

    Richard,
    I can see both your points. Trouble is, anarchy is such a loaded term, meaning vastly different things to different people. To you it might mean ‘no statist domination’, where to her it might mean ‘total lack of all restraints upon behavior’. We need a new word, or maybe we should string a whole bunch together into one like the Germans.
    I’m pretty sure that if you two got together over a beer, you would find much more to agree about than disagree. Assuming the number of beers was optimal, lol.
    Keep up the good work.

  38. […] I went from having my finger on the delete button for this post on Social Anthropology, to dropping another comment on the subject blog post, instead. Call me crazy, silly man, or […]

  39. Richard F on April 19, 2013 at 15:09

    LeonRover:
    ““social anthropology”, “social science”, “counter-factual history”, “science fiction” are activities which have tiny amounts of data and large amounts of conjecture.”

    Entirely untrue. “Science fiction” is just that: fiction. It doesn’t have to have any data at all because the writer can make it up 100%. The rest of what you wrote? Pure bullshit. Not just because it’s spouting bullshit (it is), it shows you don’t actually know what many of those words mean without having to look them up.

    Social science is an umbrella term for a number of fields, not least of which is this thing called “history”. By its very definition, it is backed up by data, and mountains of it typically. Social anthropology itself is hypotheses built upon data. Sure, that involves conjecture but it has to be built upon data because otherwise, some other anthropologist is going to come behind you and call out your bullshit, like I just did.

  40. LeonRover on April 20, 2013 at 03:53

    RichardF.

    “Entirely untrue. “Science fiction” is just that: fiction.” Entirely ? – No.
    “Partially untrue” – Yes.

    “They make wonderful reads for those cold winter evenings in front of crackling wood fires.”

    This literary review & what follows is an “opinion piece”.

    I can see that it’s your view is that when anthros conduct debate concerning their “competing suppositions & theories” that each is “calling bullshit” on the other.

    So “bullshit” is to be taken as synonym for “competing supposition & theory” whenever YOU write an “opinion piece” about someone else.

    Oh, and I think you are being “peevish & pedantic”.

  41. Richard F on April 20, 2013 at 13:17

    Thank you for proving that you don’t really understand. Did I say science fiction was _entirely_ fiction? Nope. I said it *could* be made up entirely, I didn’t say it was. I said your entire first statement is entirely untrue because it is.

    >I can see that it’s your view is that when anthros conduct debate concerning their “competing suppositions & theories” that each is “calling bullshit” on the other.

    No, that’s called a debate. I’m just calling you on your bullshit because you don’t really know what you’re talking about. You lumped together four subjects, one of which isn’t related to the others whatsoever, and said they’re all made up, effectively. Not because you know these things to be true, but because you don’t seem to understand them. Many humans, by nature, don’t like things they don’t understand and that seems to be the case here.

    As for all your quotation marks, I think you need to look up the difference between scare quotes and the grammatical use of quotation marks, you may have them very, very confused.

  42. LeonRover on April 20, 2013 at 13:40

    Still “peevish and pedantic”.

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